Where are the best lawn care and landscaping employees?
You know who I'm talking about:
- Excited to work for you.
So... how do you find them?
Here, we will uncover the greatest strategies and secrets that leaders use every year.
This guide will pinpoint all of your lawn care hiring problems - and fix them.
No more "labor droughts." No more “bad hires.” No more micro-management and stress headaches.
Get the kind of employees that 95% of other owners can only dream of:
You can guess...
You can “get a feeling.”
You can close your eyes and wish. But you’ll never know until you answer the following questions:
1. Are you growing fast enough to put a new, full-time hire to work?
When you feel like you are drowning in work, it's time to seriously consider bringing on a new employee.
2. Do you have the time and resources to properly train a new hire?
Nothing will hurt your business more than a poorly-trained worker.
3. Are your clients happy with your services?
Don't hire anyone until you know you can provide - and train for - a service that makes clients happy.
4. Do you have the money to handle a short-term profit loss?
Nobody starts out at 100% efficiency. Your profits will take a hit while your new hire learns the ropes.
5. Do you have a process in place?
Are you ready to:
- Manage a new employee
- Put them on the payroll
- Fill Federal or State legal requirements for them
If you can answer “yes!” to all of these questions, you are ready to hire more staff.
“Have you tried everything?”
Most small business owners think they have.
Yet, they’re still stuck in the field because they couldn't find employees to fill their roster.
The fact is, 95% of Green Industry owners barely tap into the best hiring resources.
This guide alone will put you into the Elite, top 5% who know how to find the Best Employees in the Green Industry.
Here’s a rough breakdown:
1. Use this Ultimate Marketing Strategy Guide to Find the Best Employees
You spend all this time and effort in acquiring new clients.
Why not use the same skills to find new Employees?
This lawn care marketing guide allows you to capture the interest of hundreds, and help you hire the best employees in your market.
Includes advice on:
- Fliers, door hangers, and Craigslist ads
- Social media tactics that actually work
- Turning lukewarm applicants into people begging to get hired by your company
2. Do You Advertise Your Jobs?
Ever wonder how the big lawn care companies keep finding all these employees?
The secret is paid advertisements.
When you use platforms like Craigslist or Facebook, you can supercharge your hiring process and greatly increase the number of qualified employees applying to your company.
You have to do it right… otherwise, you’ll spend too much money, and not see any new hires...
3. Talk to Vendors
Are you friendly with your vendors? You should be.
They will know everyone in the area with any experience.
Take the time to build a healthy relationship with your local vendors and supply stores.
Start by bringing them a couple of pizzas, or a box of donuts. Be kind to them, do favors for them. ask them if they know anybody who might be interested in working for you.
Then, you can ask them if they know anybody who might be interested in working for you.
4. Friends, Family, and Social Media
Most of the “big players" use this strategy when they need to fill up their roster for a season.
Let your friends and family know you are looking for workers. Put out “help wanted” posts on Facebook.
It’s free. It’s effective. It hits your local area.
Here’s an example message I’ve seen get shared on Social Media:
“My company, XYZ Lawns and Landscapes, is hiring. Share this post if you know anyone who might be interested in ABC position. We take care of our employees, and we always pay on time.”
Your first employee will go two ways:
- They might slow you down and hurt the growth of your business.
- OR they will double your productivity and give you free time to grow faster.
It all depends… do you know what to look for?
- On time - did they show up for the interview?
- Professional attitude - must be respectful to clients and your future team
- Experienced - this allows you to skip the training period. They might even know a few strategies used by your competition.
What to Avoid When Hiring Your First Employee:
- People looking to make a quick buck.
- A family member or a friend. This is one of the most common hiring mistakes.
- Inexperienced. They might be cheaper, but that comes with the price of slowing you down.
You loved their application.
The next step is to call them.
Ask about their work history and experience in the industry. One or two curveball questions will give you a feel for their real, “unscripted” personality.
- If you get a bad feeling on the phone call, it’s probably not going to work out.
- If the applicant does well on the phone, do an in-person. Prepare a list of questions. Aim to get a feel for their personality, and if they can act like a professional.
- If they show up late or look like they haven’t bathed in three weeks, you don't want to hire them.
Here’s a great list of interview questions to get you started.
Never hire out of pity. Never hire because "you get along with them." Hire them because you think they will help grow your business.
The best employees need to be paid more - BUT -
They will also make you thousands more in pure profit every year.
The problem is, most owners think they can't afford to pay their best employees what they’re worth. So, they settle for the “cheap guys” and pay them dirt.
It only takes 5 steps to pay your employees what they deserve:
- Make sure you price your services right. Don’t be cheap, just because everyone else is.
- Figure out the average wages of your market. For top talent: you will have to pay over the average to keep them happy.
- Pay them! This article from Lawn and Landscape Magazine says: “A reasonable benchmark for overhead personnel, including the owner’s salary, is 12 percent of sales.”
- Incentivize them to stay. This is a seasonal industry, so you need to find a way to keep your best team members around. Bonuses for “consecutive years worked,” pay raises, and other incentives will encourage the best guys to return.
- Pay attention to Overtime Laws. Especially if you are using a unique “pay for performance” model ... (see below).
The "Pay for Performance" Model
If you have the resources to set this up, Jonathan Pototschnik (of Lawn Care Millionaire) suggests a “pay for performance” model:
Warning! the pay-for-performance model is not for beginners.
When implemented incorrectly, it could end up losing you money. Make sure you have the right Lawn Care Software (with Job Costing tools) to manage your business and keep your profits high.
When your best employees are invested in your company, they will work much harder to help it grow. They will make you more money.
Not to mention, you will dodge the stress and headaches from unmotivated employees.
Are your best employees getting poached? You could lose more than labor:
- You lose their experience.
- Morale drops across your business.
- You risk them giving away your plans to competitors.
There are eight simple ways to increase your team's happiness. We will go more in depth on this one in a future post.
For now, here is a slimmed-down version of the list:
- Build a reputation for quality work. This attracts quality workers.
- Reward loyalty. "Stay” bonuses make employees glad to return, year after year.
- Provide perks that no other company will.
- Give employees a stake in the company's growth.
- Recognize talent: if you see another company’s employee doing good work, go talk to them. Give them your card, and tell them you think they’d make a good fit at your company.
- Build a healthy company culture.
- Enable employees to see the path of their own advancement.
- Watch for signals that your employees are unhappy. What would you do to keep a client? Do that 10 times over to keep your best employees.
Should I make my employees sign a Non-competes Clause?
Short answer: maybe not.
Long answer: for most cases, non-compete clauses may not do you any good. They are incredibly difficult to enforce, especially in this industry.
Think about this: you hire a guy who has been mowing for 10 years. He leaves after a few months for various reasons. Is he supposed to give up his lifelong experience in mowing?
The Harvard Business review claims that non-compete clauses can actually hurt performance. Crews do worse after signing non-competes because they feel like the work owns them - instead of them owning their work.
Solution: Have your employees sign a Non-disclosure Agreement instead. This will protect your company's intellectual property:
- Client lists
- Routes and maps
- Future plans, etc.
The calls never stop.
Some go to your voicemail.
Some hang up before you can answer.
Every time you get a call, and you don’t answer, you could miss out on a new Client.
For the average lifetime value of a client, you could lose out on thousands of dollars - every time you don’t pick up your phone.
Hurts, doesn’t it?
This is one reason among many that every Landscaping Company and Lawn Care Business needs an office assistant. As you grow, you will need more than one.
Read our quick guide: "How to Hire Your First Office Assistant."
In under five minutes, this will give you a crystal-clear vision for who your next Office Assistant should be - and how to hire them.
“My employees love working for me.”
...but under the right leadership, it can happen. Company culture is critical for business owners that want employees to enjoy going to work.
- The overall vision for the company
- Who gets hired into the company
- How the company interacts with its clients, partners, and employees
Culture creation is not hard, but it is something you have to pay attention to. How do people want to be treated? How do they treat others?
Recently, on the Profit Roadmap Podcast, we had a long discussion on how to build a good company culture. Listen to it here!
Quick Guide to Building Your Company Culture
- Start with a purpose. Identify goals and standards.
- Lead by example.
- Be kind, and respect your employees.
- Be truthful. Always communicate.
A Great Example Culture for a Landscaping Business
- “Get it right the first time” attitude.
- Strong focus on teamwork.
- Professional, yet not uptight. Looks good in front of clients, without turning its employees into machines.
This can be the hardest part of owning a business.
You’re going to have to fire another human being.
Fortunately, you can turn this painful task into a less emotional process, by watching your numbers.
Service Autopilot, or any other Lawn Software that has employee management tools, can give you the “hard data” you need to prove that a certain employee is holding you back.
Here’s how you can tell if it’s time to fire an employee:
Does the Employee Cost More than They Make?
Sometimes, employees stop caring. Or maybe, they were never a "good fit" in the first place.
Employees can hurt your company by:
- Bad-mouthing clients or coworkers
- Scaring clients away or pissing them off
- Doing a poor job and showing no signs of improvement
This is a touchy subject for everyone. It’s best to measure employees’ performance in order to back up your feelings on this matter.
What Should You Do?
Is your employee trending from bad to worse? Here are the steps every lawn care or landscaping owner should take:
- Talk to them. Find out what’s wrong. You might be able to save them.
- Discover if there is a training problem. Even the worst employees can turn around after retraining.
- Give them goals to shoot for. If you never tell them what you want, how are they supposed to meet your expectations?
When all else fails, fire them the right way. Be respectful, but firm. Remember, letting go of a bad employee is a healthy decision for everyone else in your company.
Maybe you are fed up.
You want a fresh start.
But letting go of employees can cost you a lot.
Before doing anything drastic, look at these two elements of your business:
- Re-evaluate your hiring practices. Are you setting up the right expectations? Are you asking them the right questions in interviews?
- Re-evaluate your training practices. Are you giving them enough time to adapt to your company culture and work-ethic? Do they have the resources they need to become great employees?
Hiring the best lawn care employees is easier than you think.
The hard part is keeping them motivated.
For the lawn care and landscaping industry, this seems to get harder every year.
This guide is here to pinpoint and eliminate any hiring problem in your business.
With these questions answered, you will be able to find the best lawn care and landscaping employees for your business.
Updated March 8, 2019 7:00 AM